Shawn Newby hopes his third run for council is the charm, as part of a generational change on council.
“I want to be part of that team that gets Saanich up to speed towards being a more healthy and productive municipality,” he said.
Newby enters the 2018 race as a familiar face in local politics. He had first run for council in the 2014 general municipal election before running again in the 2017 byelection. Newby’s name has also appeared in other municipal contexts. He currently chair the Saanich Community Association Network (SCAN), the organization that represents Saanich’s 17 community associations — independent groups that serve as a hinge between residents-at-large, private interests, and the municipality, including its elected officials.
As such, Newby is familiar with municipal institutions, but also has his ears on the ground when it comes to practical community affairs. He also has ties to the local business and farming community through his role as a co-founder and manager of the Saanich Sunday Farmers’ Market. He also volunteered for a number of local organizations and events, including Saanich’s Music in the Park series, in keeping with his background as a musician.
Newby enters the race during a transitional period in Saanich municipal politics. Three long-established councillors — Couns. Dean Murdock, Vicki Sanders and Leif Wergeland — are not running for re-election. A fourth councillor — Coun. Fred Haynes — is running for mayor against incumbent Mayor Richard Atwell, as well Rob Wickson and Dave Shebib.
In short, Newby enters a race with potentially favourable winds. The high number of councillors not running suggests a mood for change, and candidates with an established record of service might find themselves as benefactors, as they compete in a crowded field.
With four open seats on council, this is a really good opportunity to bring about some changes on council, he said.
“I don’t want to say that they [the old council] failed anywhere, but I do think they could have been more progressive.”
While Newby’s critique covers a number of subjects, he is especially critical of Saanich’s bureaucratic pace, one of the obstacles to creating more affordable housing.
If Saanich wants to deal with the issue of affordable housing, the municipality needs all forms of housing. “We need to increase rental stock and increase density, so people can afford to buy in Saanich,” he said.
Yet developers, he said, would like to see Saanich become more efficient, in voicing a long heard complaint that also reflects personal familiarity, as Newby worked as a contractor for seven years, before his current position as an account manager for a local company selling and installing counter-tops. (To underscore this point, his work truck bears his likeness).
Looking at other issues, Newby praises Saanich’s environmental policies, notwithstanding the public controversies around the Environmental Development Permit Area bylaw, which Saanich currently seeks to replace with no definitive time line in place.
This said, Newby is not interested in re-litigating old conflicts.
“There is no point in looking back,” he said. “My campaign is about looking forward. I want to start working on what we can do.”